If you want to upgrade your cruise cabin, the best time to do it is when you’re buying. Look at any of the big online cruise agencies, and you’ll see a notice that says “upgrades available” or such on some of the listings. That means you can pay for a certain category but will be assigned a higher-classed cabin immediately, effectively giving you a free cruise cabin upgrade.
But if you pay for, say, an inside cabin on one of those huge mega-ships, the upgrade might not be much more than a better inside cabin, or maybe even a lower deck cabin with a porthole. Promotions of that sort aren’t likely to get you from an inside cabin to a balcony.
Best Time to Get a Cruise Cabin Upgrade
You generally find the best cruise prices within three to four weeks prior to sailing, when the cruise line is pretty sure about occupancy on an upcoming cruise. That’s the most likely time for a cruise cabin upgrade promotion, too. These free cruise upgrades are just another way of price-cutting without actually lowering any prices.
Alternatively, even if you don’t see an upgrade promotion, you may find attractive rates on premium cabins. Some current promotions include cash back and onboard credits. In any case, you typically find big cruise cabin upgrades or other promotional deals limited to cruises that aren’t selling as well as the cruise line planned.
Arranging a Cruise Cabin Upgrade with a Travel Agent
Another approach to nabbing a cruise cabin upgrade is to ask your travel agent about arranging an upgrade—which is sometimes feasible, especially if your agent is tight with the cruise line you’re using.
You might even ask the purser once you’re onboard something like, “What would it take to move to a better cabin?” You’d pay something, but it may not be as much as the official price difference for a cruise cabin upgrade.
Cruise lines keep track of regular cruisers, and if you’re a repeat customer, the line might well offer you a cabin upgrade without your even asking. But unless you’re an “elite level” cruise customer, you’ll never even get wind of such a deal.
As with chancy airline upgrades, once you buy a cabin, be prepared to stay in that cabin. If you don’t get a cruise cabin upgrade, enjoy what you have, and keep in mind that you’re entitled to most of the many activities regardless of your cabin.